Each has its own strengths and adherents. I have tried to restrict myself to only three versions of this famous nymph. These are the Frank Sawyer, Cove and Gold-bead. The gold bead variant is the one that I use when fishing with a floating line, a long leader and a nymph down deep. This appears to work exceptionally well in all but the hottest weather.

Several years ago, I took a late season holiday in Falmouth and packed my fly gear to fish Tree Meadow Trout Fishery near Hayle. The weather had started to turn much cooler with the odd morning frost which meant the fish would be further down. I set up with a 8.5ft rod with a WF5F line to fish a 12ft leader with a size 12 gold bead pheasant tail nymph. I fished the far end of the top lake working the pheasant tail down deep with a slow retrieve. The slower the retrieve, the more takes I got. My first fish was a good rainbow of 71b 6oz that put up a terrific fight on my light tackle.

I moved round the lake to fish just in front of the island at the top end of the lake. I made a perfect cast just past the point of the island and started to make an exceptionally slow retrieve. I had a terrific take from a fish that hugged the bottom like a barbel. I guessed it was a brown trout and events were to prove me right but this was not an ordinary brown trout. It was absolutely fin perfect fish of 31b 1oz that I believe was a grown-on wild fish. It certainly looked like it.

I fished on to catch another two good rainbows that were both over five pounds. I also spotted two small wild brown trout down the edge that in my mind confirmed my belief about the three pounder that I had had earlier in the session.

Catching that wild brown trout and other fish since has confirmed the position of the gold bead pheasant tail in my tackle box. This fly is without doubt a good general purpose nymph that I was introduced to by my friend and fly tyer, Lee Kitchen.

Tying the gold bead pheasant tail


Hook: sprite nymph size 12, 14 or 16.

Thread: brown Rib: gold wire

Thorax: rabbit fur

Hackle: red game or brown cock hackle

Body, tail and wing case: cock pheasant tail fibres.


Step 1-slide bead on hook

Step 2-tie in gold wire

Step 3-tie in four pheasant tail fibres for tail and body

Step 4-wind on the fibres stopping 1.5mm before the gold bead and

Step 5-take ribbing wire in even open turns up to the bead

Step 6-dub on rabbit fur and make the thorax.

Step 7-take remaining fibres over the thorax to form wing case and

Step 8-tie in hackle just behind bead. Take two turns then tie off.

Lee Kitchen can be contacted for all your fly tying requirements at: 11 Midgham Green, Midgham, Reading, Berkshire RG7 5TT

Phone 01189 713962 E-mail Lee@troutflies.freeserve.co.uk